Monthly Archives: January 2010

January 2010 Boston Azure User Group Meeting Notes

This was the third meeting of the Boston Azure User Group! (You can get on the group mailing list here.)

We watched a clip from the first day of PDC where Ray Ozzie and others talk Azure in the keynote

Discussed idea of an Azure Firestarter event – possibly for May 8, 2010 – and this seems to flow nicely from our scheduled April meeting where Jason Haley is scheduled to talk about getting started programming in Azure, such as with the Azure SDK.

Ben Day spoke on Windows Azure storage. Some quick notes / points from his talk:

  • Relational databases have a schema – all rows in a table have same columns, structure is defined before pouring in any data, data is not repeated (third-normal form breaks out data to appear only once – no redundancy)
  • … database will manage transactions across tables
  • … though mixed with replication can provide performance challenges
  • This changes for Azure Table Storage!
  • … though Azure Table Storage can scale way better – horizontally (“out”) whereas traditional SQL RDBMs tend to scale best vertically (“up”) – to larger boxes – which is more limiting and tends to be more expensive.
  • Do we need to rethink what needs to be transactional? Can we use a simplified transactional model – such as just within one table – or one instance of one table…
  • … compensating transactions are another approach
  • Securely storing data
    • Encrypt (compute is cheap)
    • If you encrypt a key, it won’t work for indexing
    • Search is harder if you encrypt
  • String columns have a 64KB size limit for Table Storage – so reference larger objects in a Blob
  • Unit testability
    • Abstract away you r persistent store, such as with Repository pattern – so you can unit test
    • Encapsulate business logic, such as with Service Layer and Domain Model patterns
    • Extract logic from UI using MVP (Model View Presenter)
    • Use Mock objects
  • Ben will come back to finish the story!

Around 23 attended.


Since Software is a Business, Architects need to be More than Technologists

Gave talk at Architect Factory, Part Deux today titled Since Software is a Business, Architects need to be More than Technologists. The slide deck can be downloaded here. The most prominent concept/slide follows:

Technology Skills

Technology + Communications + Business-Awareness = Influential Architect

The overall event was excellent. It was organized primarily by Bryan Tuttle of CodeRight, a Consulting/Training company. Many thanks to Bryan for a job well done!

December 2010 Boston Azure User Group Meeting Notes

Second meeting of Boston Azure User Group

Guest speakers were Michael Stiefel and Mark Eisenberg

Meeting was held December 3, 2009 at the Microsoft NERD

We opened with Boston Azure Theater, kicking off a few minutes after 6:00.  For around 45 minutes we watched a video of Microsoft Director Manuvir Das’ PDC talk A Lap Around the Windows Azure Platform.

From there, Microsoft’s Mark Eisenberg walked us through a summary of key Windows Azure announcements made at (or right before) the Microsoft PDC in November. The deck Mark used is available BAUG_PDCHighlights. There was a lot of interest in the announcement details and in the pricing model.

Our keynote speaker, Michael Stiefel, followed with a detailed look into the project “Dallas” announcement, showcasing the Dallas “Data as a Service” platform, working through sample apps, a custom mashup – with code, demonstrating the straight-forward programming model (ATOM feeds), and showing use of the data directly within Excel. Michael wrapped up by reviewing the business model – and discussing the interesting possibilities (publishers can publish – and others can consume – data so much more easily than today since Microsoft will have eliminated the “contract friction” we’d have if every consumer had to strike a deal with every publisher).

Silverlight exceeds 50% penetration

According to RIAStats, a version of Silverlight is now detected on more than half of the browsers sampled! This is a telling milestone as installations of Silverlight continue to grow – drawing inexorably closer to that of Adobe Flash which currently enjoys installations on around 97% of browsers.

If you look at the graphic, and you consider the “not detected” section, it reads 49.99%, which means that the sum of those detected is better than half.


At PDC 2009 in November, Scott Guthrie announced that Silverlight penetration was up to around 45%, up from around 30% in the summer. These RIAStats numbers feel in line with that.

Of course, I know this doesn’t “prove” Silverlight is really on more than 50% of browsers, as RIAStats are not a perfect reflection of the web as a whole, but it seems an interesting milestone nonetheless.

Silverlight has been in the wild for 863 days: Silverlight was released for real (RTW, or “released to web”) on 05-Sep-2007, followed thirteen months later by Silverlight 2 RTW 14-Oct-2008, then less than nine months later we saw Silverlight 3 on 09-July-2009. Silverlight 4 is in beta – maybe Microsoft will announce its release at MIX10 in mid-March? If they do, that would be on a similar release rhythm as from Silverlight 2 to Silverlight 3.

Silverlight’s installed base will also get another boost from the 2010 Winter Olympics next month as well. (And Silverlight 2 shipped shortly after the 2008 Summer Olympics.)

It is interesting to note that another tracking site – – not only shows the penetration lower – and doesn’t agree on any of the numbers – but also doesn’t even agree on relative installed base across versions [EDIT: after Comment from Travis Collins, added in Silverlight 4 = 0.04 for RIAStats]:

RIAStats StatOwl
Silverlight 1 0.62 1.39
Silverlight 2 1.91 9.73
Silverlight 3 47.44 23.85
Silverlight 4 (beta) 0.04 (<1 pixel) not shown, or 0%
Undetected (reported) 49.99 65.03%

I’m not sure why they don’t agree – perhaps differences in sample sizes, sampling methodology, or due to different audiences being sampled.

Also, if you check the math yourself, you’ll see the values shown don’t tie down perfectly for RIAStats (though they do for StatOwl); if you add up the individual Silverlight versions along with the Undetected, you won’t get exactly 100%. Some sort of rounding errors I assume. [EDIT: See explanation in Comment from Travis Collins, RIAStats creator.] But I also assume that the Undetected = 49.99% is most likely right (at least not wrong due to a rounding error, since it is harder to round wrong there).

EDIT 01-Feb-2010: Found an interesting, relevant post on Cool facts about Silverlight penetration / mindshare from